Saturday, 4 August 2012

Memories of China: Food Poisoning

I ate a lot in China. A ridiculous amount of food, things that I would never normally eat but I simply had to just for the spectacle, to say that I've tried it. Other times I grabbed something from a street vendor so I could take a picture of it.

I never claimed to be a smart man, my motto often times is "Do it, just because you can do it".

This leads to me eating things like this deep fried bird thing. I have no idea what it is, some kind of chick? For all I know they grabbed a bunch of chickadees. I hoped that the oil was enough to burn away any bacteria.

Seasoning salt kills bacteria too right?

But that didn't give me food poisoning. No. So I guess that if you deep fry something enough, it makes it safe to eat. Good knowledge for any traveller.

Now for anyone who remembers, one of the tours I was in a city called Chengdu. For anyone who cares, it's in the province of Sichaun. Now why this is important is because the people in this province are known for cooking in a particular way.

And I hate it.

It's overly spiced and/or spicy with food that ends up being especially oily/fatty/greasy. They even have their own type of "spiciness" which is characterized by your mouth going numb. That's right. Having your mouth numb = Spicy. It's caused by these special peppercorns that they use. And I can't say I care for them. Most of the meals provided by the tour group were unappetizing to me.

But one meal stuck out. And that was the Sichaun hotpot. Hotpot is basically where you have a pot of boiling broth or water at a table, and everyone cooks food in the pot at the same time. What made the Sichaun hotpot different was that the broth was Sichaun style. Lovely.

And there was one meat that I had to try.

Yes those are brains.

Maybe if I ate it in a different environment I would have enjoyed it more? But the brain was very gritty and yet, mushy. There wasn't much taste but I couldn't bring myself to eat the whole portion.

But, the brain didn't give me food poisoning either.

Later in Taiwan when we were in the night market I would find more interesting things to eat. My friends told me to find a dish which literally translates into "Small intestine in large intestine". In reality it's just small and large intestine sausages. I did find a stall selling it and it was extremely greasy and oily.

I tried giving some to a wandering stray dog and he ignored me.

I don't really blame him.

But no, this greasy mess didn't give me food poisoning. Neither did the offal that I got from a street vendor in Hong Kong, or the chicken cartilage from Macau, or the questionable peanuts on the boat ride in Guilin, or the riceballs from 7-11.

None of the things I ate in China gave me food poisoning.

So you ask, what did? What did I eat that caused me to puke for the first time in probably a decade? That made half my family sick and gave my Dad intestinal problems for half a week?

Airline food from these guys.

I hate these guys.

I apologize in advance if anyone reading this works at United or has loved ones working at United but I cannot stand this airline. Fairly poor service, barely mediocre flights, and seriously, when your food is worse than everything I ate in a country with questionable (if any) hygiene standards, something is wrong.

I hope to never fly with them again. I was lucky to be bedridden for only one day, my Dad was still vomiting and have diarrhea over half a week later.

Probably not a good idea to eat the vegetarian option either.


  1. I wonder what's in their vegetarian option now. I think if something is just cooked enough, no matter what is in it, it becomes safe to eat. Don't quote me on that though and start cooking random shit. But just the heat from cooking kills a lot of bacteria. As long as something is fresh, cooking it should make it safe. I'm all for doing something so you can say you tried it, but I think there's some cuisine I would rather avoid. Such as brains, tiny chickens, and food that makes my mouth numb.

  2. Feel sorry for you. After everything you've been through (brains are pretty unusual, huh?) damn airline food broke you.

  3. There's nothing worse than falling ill on holiday dude, I'm sorry to hear that happened to you. I'm intrigued as to what those bird things tasted like, I feel so guilty for thinking that it looks pretty damn delicious.

  4. Same for me with Thai Airlines, unfortunately.
    Hey, if you could enjoy the brains, you would make fine zombie material!
    Also, isn't Sichuan sauce one of the damn spiciest?! I'm Indian, so I know my spices.

  5. Brains, instestines, chikadees, oh my!!!! Alllllll served up fried and spicy!! LOL!!!

    Welcome back!! It's a shame about the flight - and rather worrying how this airline gave you food poisoning! :-( I'm sure there's a law against such things!!

    I hope you had a great time anyway despite the flight!!! It's still an amazing journey to a most tantalizing of places! Take care

  6. :(

    Yeah.... that's why I never eat the airline food. I just pack a bag of trusty beef jerky and munch off of that.

  7. I saw those baby bird things on an episode of Bizarre Foods a couple of years ago. Looks like you tried some interesting stuff, I don't think I could have gone for the brains! And the airline food? Of course it made you sick, it's airline food! :)

  8. Wow... I've never had a bad experience with United, but with plenty of other airlines. I can't believe you didn't get sick from the brains! BLECH. Whose brains were they? Do you have any idea what kind of animal they came from? I'm intrigued...

  9. That is why I will never ever eat airline food, blah in every way. Although the brains look ummm errr about as appetezing, blah!

  10. You should go scotland, they deep fry mars bars there! (as in the chocolate!)

    I tried brain when I went to pakistan. It tasted like sweet egg to me

  11. Yeah I fear food quality in other countries. There's a reason why America has the FDA, and I'm sure Canada has an FDA-like program of their own.

  12. Ive had Hotpot before, good stuff! I want to go to china bad. no cash though.

    its crazy that you survived all of the food over there to get screwed by the airline!

  13. How ironic that it wasn't the food in China that gave you food poisoning but the stuff from the flight back. Sorry to hear you (and your dad) got so sick.

  14. My whole family had some strange vomiting/ stomach upset kind of problem after a holiday in another country. It wasn't food poisoning though, according to the doctor.

  15. Uhm.. sue! Makes the trip cheaper doesn't it?

  16. This made me laugh really hard, because when I flew to Thailand once upon a time ago, I flew United, and boy was that food terrible. Like the lowest rung of TV dinner. Meanwhile, I ate the most ridiculous street cart foods in all of Bangkok and never felt sick once. Yet I ate United's "food" on the way back and I felt like my innards were going to collapse on themselves.

  17. I am so very happy I wasn't with you. I'm usually pretty adventuresome food-wise but that looked just awful. Pass the Immodium pls...

  18. LMAO I totally did not expect it to be the air line food to give you the poisoning! Well, I'm glad that you're feeling much better :) :) You really ate brains though? Yikes!! Mushy and gritty without taste?? Yuck...

  19. wow, some of those foods even challenge my adventurous spirit!

  20. Wow! You ate a lot of foods in your trip. That's nice! I love to try different cuisine, too!

  21. The disgusting stuff never makes you sick. Not enough people have accepted that Rule of the Universe yet. ;)

    Hope you guys all recovered ok. Continental's food was an effing biohazard, and now they've merged with United it's like everything that sucked before sucks ten times worse now....

  22. I don't know what that first photo was other than scary.

  23. hope now you are fully recovered
    no comment on food

  24. Hi, We just flew back on United from HongKong to Chicago. Both my husband and I got food poisoning. We are suspicious of the beef meal with potatoes, green beans, and carrots. My husband started to feel a little sick on the flight, but thought it might be motion sickness. But by the time we got home we both had full blown food poisoning. Have just reported it to United. Of course, you can't talk to a real person about it. Have to fill out a form. Will see if I get any response.